Time to Talk: 11 Apps to Support Children’s Language Skills

Summer School Vacation: Fostering Language Carryover with and without Apps

The activities we do when on vacation can be used to support vocabulary and language skills. When used together with your kids, apps can also be useful tools to stimulate communication and fostering language carryover.

Summer school vacation is finally here. Many parents have a lot of plans set up for their kids, but make sure to save some time for pure relaxation with each other. That’s where our memories of childhood are built.

Hopefully some educational activities will be shared by teachers, libraries and service providers for the summer. I can share apps but rather than let your children play on the iPad to keep them occupied, I suggest using apps together with your child during relaxing child/parent time, similar to book reading. I always suggest that parents play with an app before introducing it to their child. Apps are flexible tools. They can be purely entertainment or can teach a skill. It’s all up to how they are originally taught. Remember, even an electronic game can be a vehicle for narratives, explanations, and defining vocabulary if the parents ask for this. Read the rest of this entry »

Language Play: 5 Useful Apps That Help to Promote Speech & Language Skills

Apps for Back-to-School

Now that we are all back to school, I thought it would be fun to talk about educational activities on the iPad or iPhone to support children’s learning at school. This year, I have switched my speech and language materials from books and software programs to apps for my iPad, in order to be more mobile and spontaneous with my therapies (Of course, I love that the kids are begging to come to “speech!”). Several parents and colleagues have asked for a list of useful apps to promote speech and language skills, so I thought I would share them with Hilltown Families. Here are 5 of my students’ favorite apps for elementary school. It is very hard to limit this to 5 since there are many great apps that I keep adding to my repertoire! In the future, I will write about favorite older student apps, and apps for other platforms.

  • Starfall All About Me by Starfall Education is a great app for friends to get to know one another. And who doesn’t want to talk about oneself? Children identify what they look like by making an animated version of themselves, their pets (children can use fantasy pets, too), their toys, and places/items in their houses. Then they give a new friend a turn! Great for social skills including turn-taking and problem solving with a partner. Also great for vocabulary skills. Cost: $1.99
  • Speech with Milo: Sequencing by Doonan Speech Therapy. Children sequence three pictures with an option to watch a movie afterwards. Ask what happened with cues to use “first,” “then,” and “last.” Milo the mouse is loveable and gentle with a child’s voice. Promotes sequencing, narrative skills, time concepts, expressive language, and grammar skills. Cost: $2.99
  • For Articulation Practice, I use two apps the most: Articulate It by Smarty Ears LLC is a professional app but it also allows you to do a home program based on the recommendations of your speech-language pathologist. Custom choices of specific sounds in specific positions of words using photo cards. Statistics give percentage correct. Cost: $38.99 – Speech Pairs by Synapse Apps LLC  has lots of great parent information! Two photos are shown that contrast sounds in words to increase a child’s ability to hear subtle differences (“gas”/”glass”). Sometimes the child is asked to listen to the sounds and sometimes to produce the sounds. Very customizable! Cost: $6.99.
  • Sid’s Science Fair by PBS Kids. Visit three different science/math activities. Love these activities! Sorting/categorization/charting, identifying details/matching/patterns using a magnifying glass, and flexible thinking. Ask your child what they did after each activity for narrative, descriptive, and explaining skills. Cost: $2.99.
  • Toca Hair Salon by Toca Boca. A favorite of all children and parents, too! Children love to choose a character to comb, cut, shave, lengthen, shampoo, spray colors, and their favorite, blow dry! their character’s hair and facial hair. Afterwards, they describe what they did to me or to someone who has not seen what they did. Great for sequencing, describing, narratives, and memory skills. Cost: $1.99.

Wow! It’s hard to stop at 5 (I think I actually snuck in 6) but I’ll be back in a month with more ideas! Welcome to the brave new world of educational apps!


Kathy Puckett

Kathy is a private practice speech-language pathologist living in Shelburne, MA and the author of our monthly speech and language column, Time to Talk. Living in Western Massachusetts since 1970, she raised two children here and has two grandsons, ages 15 and 8 years old. She has worked as an SLP with people of all ages for the last 14 years. She runs social thinking skill groups and often works with teens. As a professional artist, she has a unique and creative approach to her practice. She loves technology, neurology, gardening, orchids, and photography. She uses an iPad for therapies. She grows 500 orchids and moderates her own forum for orchid growers (Crazy Orchid Lady). Kathy is dedicated to the families of her private practice, and offers practical, creative ideas to parents. She blogs about communication at kathypuckett.com

3 Apps Aid Citizen Scientists & Nature Enthusiasts

3 Apps to Explore & Engage with Your Environment

While adventuring outdoors to enjoy local landscapes this summer, families can integrate their mobile devices into their trek to create environmental learning opportunities! Three applications – CreekWatch, Leafsnap, and the WildLab – are all designed to teach users about their environment and to help monitor and conserve natural resources.  All three applications provide ways for families to integrate technology into their outdoor adventures in a way that promotes learning and engagement with nature, rather than detracting from the experience. Try one (or all!) of them on your next outing.


CreekWatch allows families to monitor the health of their local watershed by using pictures of streams and creeks (taken by users and submitted via the app) to determine water level and amount of pollution and debris present in the water.


Leafsnap, called an “electronic field guide,” compares pictures of tree leaves using photorecognition software, and helps users identify trees  – allowing them to learn about the biodiversity present around them while sharing information with a public database, helping to aid scientists.


For bird identification, check out the WildLab – it uses GPS-tagged photos taken by users to monitor bird populations, and the user learns what bird(s) they’ve seen using information provided in the app.

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